Injuries completely derailed the Montreal Canadiens’ 2015-16 season with no player’s absence being felt more than Carey Price’s. The Habs netminder was coming off the best season of his career – winning the Vezina, Hart and Ted Lindsay in the 2014-15 season – and looked excellent to start the year before a knee injury sidelined him.
Price looked great during the World Cup of Hockey and should be back to full strength for the Canadiens. The organization realized that injuries were not the only issue and made several shrewd moves that could help bolster a power-play unit that ranked 25th last season.
The team traded away beloved PK Subban for Shea Weber in hopes that his booming shot will lift the special teams. The Canadiens also brought Andrew Shaw’s crease presence aboard as well as KHL standout – and once highly touted NHL prospect – Alexander Radulov to increase production on the power play.
All and all, there has not been a huge amount of roster change to the 2014-15 Canadiens lineup that won the Atlantic Division and a playoff series. Hopes are high for the Bleu, Blanc et Rouge entering this season and the fans will be quick to call for heads to roll if the team starts to struggle.
Stanley Cup +2500
After opening last season with nine consecutive wins, the injury bug hit the Canadiens. The team slowly fell apart and younger players were thrust into the lineup before they were necessarily ready. Ultimately, the Habs missed the playoffs and it wasn’t even close.
Despite the negativity surrounding last season, there were some positives to take away. Youngsters Sven Andrighetto, Jacob De La Rose and Daniel Carr all looked to be ready to play with the big club, which should help provide some energy to the bottom-six forwards. If those younger players show growth and top scorers like Max Pacioretty and Alex Galchenyuk continue to play to their ability, then the Canadiens could be prepped for a deep playoff run.
Plus – again – a healthy Price means the world.
Eastern Conference +1200
Montreal has perennially been the bridesmaid in the Eastern Conference. The Canadiens have found themselves losing in the conference finals in two of the past six seasons – while being dispatched in relatively easy fashion on both occasions.
The East has some strong teams at the top, as the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals are always Cup contenders while the Florida Panthers, New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning are three of the toughest outs in the league.
From a casual point of view, it’s hard to lay +1200 on a team that missed the playoffs by such a wide margin last season, but this team can compete with the best in the conference. The Canadiens deserve to have similar odds to teams like the Detroit Red Wings and New York Islanders – both of which made the playoffs last season.
Atlantic Division +700
The Atlantic Division could be a crapshoot, to be honest. The Lightning are rightfully the heavy faves to win the division, but you could easily see the Panthers, Bruins or Canadiens claiming the crown.
Since the formation of the Atlantic three seasons ago, the Habs have finished third, first and sixth, respectively. Expect to see the team closer to the first two seasons than the latter. The Habs can be competitive against the top teams in the division, but they will need to separate themselves from the bottom. The Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators always play the Canadiens tough, but Montreal should take advantage of playing those teams so often.
Season Points OVER/UNDER 95.5
Montreal easily surpassed this number in both 2013-14 and 2014-15 by posting 100 and 110 points, respectively. This season’s club should play much similar to this than the team that has a measly 82 points last season.
It may take the team some time to jell again with different pieces so reaching the 100-point plateau may be difficult, but they should be able to surpass the 95.5 mark as long as they remain healthy.
Odds as of October 6 at Bovada
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